Rich Willey’s Boptism Big Band spans styles on “Down & Dirty”

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Coming soon, June 28, 2019 to be exact, is “Down & Dirty” by Rich Willey’s Boptism Big Band. The recording is Willey’s third. “Down & Dirty” represents a range of styles including jazz, reggae, Latin, funk, baroque and rock ‘n’ roll.

With 12 songs (11 of them written by Willey), “Down & Dirty” is chockful of sound and verve. The expansive band that make up Willey’s big band do a more than passable job at the task of incorporating the various genre aspects while remaining true to the big band’s approach.

About Rich Willey

Willey is a trumpeter, bass trumpeter and bandleader. His training is in the traditions of jazz. He is one of few players to embrace the esoteric qualities of the bass trumpet. The instrument has the low pitch of a trombone while retaining the brightness of the classic trumpet sound.

A Florida native, Willey has made a name for himself in New York and Philadelphia jazz scenes. He earned a bachelors degree in music education from the University of South Florida and a masters degree in jazz performance, specializing in trumpet, from the Manhattan School of Music. Among his many accomplishments are tours with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra.

In addition to composing and performing, Willey also writes music books, and has been instrumental in getting out-of-print music books by his former teacher, the late Dr. Donald S. Reinhardt, back into print. Willey owns Boptism Music that includes his books on jazz, trombone and trumpet playing and more.

“Down & Dirty” by Rich Willey

The album opens with “Boogie Beast” and the song lives up to its name. The phrasing is tight, the grooves heavy and its sound and feel builds up expectations for the  rest of the album. The groove is created by low notes from all representative instruments. The sudden sway and brashness of the horns will remind some listeners of yesteryear jazz. It feels classic. Without knowing that the song was from a contemporary album, some listeners would not know in what era to place the song. It has a good feel that inspires repeat listens.

Another song that is not to be missed is the title track. The horn motif that opens the song is full of the bravado typically associated with rock ‘n’ roll. The motif shifts into a Latin, jazz fusion, with the rock ‘n’ roll still lingering in the ghost of the groove. Then, the sound shifts again to accommodate the horn showcase. The horn and percussion sound encompasses listeners. There is a feeling of leaping and other action-packed movements that is inspired by the peal and cry of trumpets. The lower pitched instruments almost growl while the trumpet, that showcases again, reaches for the sky with an emotional series of notes. It is as beautiful as it is fun.

Somehow, “Down & Dirty” manages to be good, clean entertainment. Audiences should appreciate its incorporation of other genres’ style elements. Still, the album remains its own unique collection of tracks that have something of the classic about them already.

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana who lives in New York City where she studies creative nonfiction at Columbia University. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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